Daily Archives: 21 March 2007

Internal party democracy – Tory style

If you can ignore the fact that the Conservative policy is for the House of Lords to be elected using the first past the post system, which is itself a closed list system, you could be forgiven for thinking they had quite a principled take in the Lords reform debate a few weeks ago. To quote Theresa May:

Yes, under the Government’s proposals 50 per cent. of the new peers would be elected, but the Government propose that those elections should use a list system. Effectively, therefore, the parties choose who is elected, so peers would owe their place in the Lords to their party bosses. Crucially, it would make it much harder for independent candidates to run for office successfully. We should do all that we can to encourage independent elected Members in the other place, and I doubt that the Leader of the Opposition believes that a list system would make for a truly independent upper Chamber.

That was all, so, last week though. Now they are considering tearing up the existing rights of party members to order the closed lists for the European Parliament elections. No doubt Theresa May’s response to this will be, as it was at a Hansard debate last month, that the Tories use primary selections, so it shouldn’t matter how the choice of candidates is restricted (as it has been by the A-list), but it doesn’t wash. The hunger for control from the centre is just as strong amongst Cameroons as it was amongst the Blairites.

Say what you like about the Lib Dems, but we tend to take these rights for granted. We have real debates at our conferences in which the leadership occasionally has to fight to save their cherished policies; the Tories pretend to be on Dragon’s Den. If a commitment to democracy doesn’t actually run through you veins, faking it tends to make you look slightly ridiculous.

(Hat tip: Iain Dale. More info: MEPWatch)

Freedom of information. But don’t tell anyone.

Quote of the week must go to Charlie Falconer:

“People not the press must be the priority. There is a right to know, not a right to tell.”

You only need to think about this for a couple of seconds to realise how dumb it is. After all, freedom of speech IS a right, and how can you know if no-one is allowed to report it?

This idea that the Government seem to have cooked up that you can have freedom of speech but without any media involved is utterly pernicious. Frankly, I can’t believe Falconer gave the game away as blatantly as this.